Tablet Tips

Can You Install Linux on a Tablet?

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Can You Install Linux on a Tablet?

I talk a lot here about Android and how customizable it is, but at the end of the day it is still a mobile operating system. That means there are some limitations. In some cases, you may want to do more with your tablet that iOS or Android will allow. So what are your options?

Well, Windows could be an option, but if you are going to buy Windows and run it on your tablet, you may as well pick up a Surface or some other Windows-based tablet instead of spending time reformatting your existing Android tablet. But, have you stopped to consider Linux? That’s right, it is possible to install Linux on a tablet, but there are a few caveats that you must know before you consider going down this path.

What You Need to Know

As I said, there are a few things you need to know before you try to install Linux on your tablet. So here goes:

1. It won’t work on all tablets.

With so many different tablet processors and architecture, it’s tough for Linux to support them all. That means your particular tablet model may not have a Linux distribution out there that supports it. If this happens, you’re pretty much out of luck.

2. Hardware support issues.

One quick Google search will turn up a lot of different mixed results when using Linux on a tablet. In some cases, it installs fine but there are no drivers for your hardware. In other cases, you can get the hardware to work, but it will take a lot of effort on your part.

3. Touch apps limited.

One of the biggest problems out there are apps that are optimized for touchscreens. Sure, they do exist on Linux, and many of the popular graphical systems for Linux such as Unity and Gnome 3 do a great job supporting touch, but many of the apps themselves just won’t work very well because they haven’t been designed for use with your fingers.

4. Access to Mobile App Stores

If you do go down the Linux route, you could be cutting yourself off from mobile app stores such as Google’s Play Store. There are some hacks out there that will help give you limited mobile app support, but in my experience it is buggy and sometimes darn near impossible to get to work right.

5. If You Have an iPad, Forget It

If you are an iPad user, then you can pretty much forget about trying this. Apple locks their devices down pretty tightly and limits your access to do things like flash the drive. While I still believe it’s doable, it require a lot of work and if you don’t know what you’re doing it will be a real headache for you.

6. Despite Limitations, It is Cool

Despite all the limitations and difficulties you may encounter, you have to admit it’s pretty cool. Just think about it, a full desktop operating system on your small, lightweight tablet. Add a small keyboard and mouse and you have a fully functional mobile workstation. That’s tough to beat.

Who Should Try This

So is this a good idea for you? That’s a tough question, but I can tell you what I think about it. First, if you are a casual tablet or computer user, I don’t recommend doing this at all. In many cases, you will need to have a good grasp on how tablets work and how to flash them with different operating systems. On top of that, you will spend time tweaking drivers in order to get things like sound working and sometimes even your wireless card. While I have faith than anyone can learn, it may be more than you want to deal with.

That being said, if you love trying projects like this, or you simply need something better than Android on your tablet, installing Linux could be the best solution for you. The good news is if it doesn’t work, you can always restore it back to factory settings. So all you lose is time. So if this sounds fun to you or you want more out of your tablet, then I suggest giving Linux a shot.

How Well Does It Work in Practice

So, how well does Linux actually work on a day to day basis? It really depends. There are so many factors to consider, such as:

  • What are your expectations?
  • What you want to do?
  • What kind of tablet do you have?
  • What software you want to run?
  • What Linux version did you choose?

That being said, I’ve enjoyed my Ubuntu install on my Android tablet. Setup did take a bit of work and I had a few issues to overcome, but I find it generally very easy to use. Some software does require a mouse and a keyboard in order to really take full advantage of it, but overall I would say it’s pretty usable. It’s not my main device, however, so it’s tough for me to personally judge its use when it comes to that type of criteria.

Still, I do believe it can be worthwhile if you want a little more power out of your device, and it’s especially useful if you need access to full desktop apps on a small device.

Recommended Distributions

Now we come to the fun part. Which Linux distribution do you choose? As you may or may not know, there are hundreds of different Linux distributions out there today. All of them are designed with purpose, and come with a wide range of features. But in my experience, you will get better results if you choose one of the follow distributions:

Ubuntu Linux

Ubuntu is one of the most popular Linux distributions available today. In fact, Canonical can be credited with bringing Linux more into the mainstream. With that, comes great support for a lot of hardware, along with many touch-friendly interface tweaks that will make using your tablet much easier. However, it is a little bloated compared to other distributions, so it will take up quite a bit of space. But, in my opinion, this is one of the best options out there for anyone wanting to install Linux on a tablet.

Fedora Linux

Fedora is a great Linux operating system if you prefer cutting edge technology. That being said, you will need a powerful tablet to run it properly. At the same time, you may find issues with driver support as Fedora only includes true free and open-source software on their product. That doesn’t mean you can’t find the drivers yourself, but you may have to do a little more searching.

Debian Linux

Debian is one of the most flexible operating systems out there. It’s what Ubuntu is based on, but in my experience it feels a little lighter weight as it doesn’t include any of the bloat that comes with Ubuntu. You can install multiple graphical interfaces on it and customize it to your heart’s content. Because of its popularity, you should be able to find drivers for a lot of hardware, but it may take a bit of work.


Now I know you are trying to get away from this, but remember Android is based on Linux. If you need a great mobile operating system, this is the one for you. That means you can either keep what you have or even consider changing from Windows to Android. It’s easy to use, runs great on almost any mobile hardware, and it’s support for the Play Store means plenty of apps to choose from. What it won’t give you is a full desktop experience, and you can’t install desktop apps.

Final Thoughts

Just because you have a tablet, doesn’t mean you have to be stuck running Windows or Android. You could always try installing Linux on your device and see how it goes. While it may take a little work, it could be a great way to gain access to a lightweight Linux device that has a fully-functioning operating system. Still, it’s not for everyone, and many of you probably won’t think it’s worth it. For tinkerers like me, it’s just what the doctor ordered. And since I love Linux, I figured why not?

Have you tried running a full version of Linux on your tablet? If so, what was the experience like for you? Do you think installing Linux on a tablet is simply a waste of time and effort? Tell me your thoughts and opinions in the comments below.

Tablet Tips

Five Reasons You Should Consider a Tablet in 2018

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Are tablets dead? That’s what many experts would have you believe. But I don’t buy it. At least not yet. Sure, they aren’t as popular as they used to be with the invention of convertibles and 2-in-1 devices. But, they still have their place. No matter how great convertibles are, they still aren’t quite as convenient as a good tablet.

So, to help you see that they aren’t dead, I thought it would be fun to highlight just five reasons why you should consider a tablet in 2018. This is definitely not every reasons I could think of, but I feel like these are the largest and most important reasons that still show that tablets are relevant even today. Shall we get started?

1. E-Reader

E-books are where’s it at in the reading world. The are cheaper to buy, and instead of carrying around a bookcase, all you need is your tablet. With cross platform apps from the likes of Amazon and more, it’s easy to carry around an entire library with you so you can read pretty much whenever and wherever you want. Sure, you could buy a dedicated e-reader, but that’s all those devices will do. If you ever want to do something else with it, you are simply out of luck. On the other hand, your tablet can be your e-reader and so much more.

2. Watching Movies and Television

This is one thing that I personally love best about my tablet. I have kids, and that means that the television could be occupied already when I want to watch something. Sure, I could kick them off the main TV (and sometimes I do) or I can fire up the same movie on Netflix using my iPad Pro. In many cases, I enjoy catching up on my show and night right before bed. So, I lie in bed and fire up my tablet and enjoy the show I want to catch up on before I hit the sack.

3. Great for Kids

When kids are young, they aren’t ready for a smartphone. In fact, there are studies that show that kids should wait a long time before they get a smartphone. While I won’t comment on those as that’s not the purpose of this article, one thing I do agree with is that little kids don’t need one. But, a tablet is a great alternative and the perfect first electronic device. It’s large enough for them to easily handle and not lose and with the right case it can withstand almost anything. On top of that, there are many great learning apps and games for kids that can provide hours of quality learning entertainment for them both at home and especially when you are traveling. Nothing helps those long car rides than a fully charged tablet, I promise you that.

4. Large Screen for Drawing or Writing

Do you like to draw or do you prefer taking notes by hand but still want everything to be stored digitally? Then a tablet is definitely right for you. It’s easy with an Apple Pencil on an iPad or a stylus on a Windows or Android tablet to take notes or draw amazing pictures just as you would on a piece of paper. Those files can then be saved digitally with just a few taps of your finger. Combine that with the long battery life found on most tablets and you have the perfect device for taking notes in class or drawing when you are enjoying the outdoors.

5. Perfect for Portable Typing

Look, I know that small laptops still beat a tablet when it comes to typing, but you have to admit that tablets do a much better job of this than your smartphone. If you need to write a few emails or maybe even create or edit a document while you are traveling or just lounging on your couch, tablets are the perfect tool to do just that. The keyboards are larger and, if you are like most people, you probably already have a case with a portable keyboard, and that makes it even easier. I don’t know how many emails I send on my tablet, but I can tell you it’s quite a few, and I prefer to use it over my smartphone unless I have no other option.

Parting Thoughts

While many may believe tablets are dead, I assure you they are far from it. Sure, sales have slowed, but people are hanging onto their devices longer because they last much longer than a smartphone. There are still many great reasons to own a tablet today, and trust me tablets aren’t going anywhere. So if you are on the fence, I encourage you to read through these reasons again. If one of them sounds like you, then you could find your tablet very useful.

Do you agree with me or do you still believe that tablets are dead? I would love to hear what you think on the matter. Sound off in the comments below and tell me why you think they are still worth it today or if you disagree tell me why they aren’t. I would love to spark a good debate.

Tablet Tips

How to Take a Screenshot on an iPad or iPad Pro

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And Edit It

How to Take a Screenshot on an iPad or iPad Pro

Just like a computer, your iPad or iPad Pro has the ability to take and save screenshots. If you are running iOS 11 or later, you can also edit those screenshots, to some extent, without ever needing to bring them into a third party app such as Photoshop. Today, I’m going to walk you through how to take a screenshot on your iPad and then how to edit that screenshot using the Instant Markup feature so you can create engaging and great looking screenshots right from your iPad.

Taking a Screenshot

First, let’s walk through how you actually take a screenshot on an iPad or iPad Pro. The process is pretty easy to do.

1. Open whatever app or apps you want to grab a screenshot of on your device.

2. Press and hold the On/Off/Sleep/Wake button on the top of your iPad.

3. Quickly press the Home button.

4. Release both buttons simultaneously.

Congratulations, you just took your first screenshot on your iPad or iPad Pro. Now remember, the buttons you are pressing do other things, so you must be careful. One of the most common mistakes people make when snapping screenshots is holding the buttons too long or not pressing them at the same time. This will, of course, cause one of the other buttons to perform it’s alternate action. Most commonly I see people accidentally activating Siri. But, if you hold the first button and then press and release the Home button quickly, you should be able to avoid this annoying mixup.

Editing a Screenshot

While you can do anything too drastic with your photos, unless you make use of many third party apps that are available on the App Store, you can perform some basic edits and annotations to your screenshot.

When you first capture a screenshot, a small version of it will appear in the bottom corner of your iPad for a few seconds, assuming you have iOS 11 or later installed on your device. When it does, tap on it. This will bring you to the Instant Markup screen. From here, there are several things you can do to your screenshot before you save it.

  • Marker – The marker allows you to make notes and annotate areas of the screenshot in a marker style with a variety of colors and even a variety of thicknesses.
  • Pencil – If you are looking for more of a pencil look to your annotations, this is the tool for you. It works much like the marker, only the appearance more closely resembles a pencil than it does a market or a pen.
  • Highlighter – Another one that does exactly what it sounds like, this tool will let you highlight specific areas of your screenshot. This is one of my personal favorites.
  • Magic Rope – This is a pretty handy tool that will allow you to make selections and annotate specific areas of your screenshot. In some cases, you can even erase or move parts of the screenshot if need be.
  • Add a text field – Another one of my personal favorites, this tool will enable you to add text fields of typed text to annotate your screenshot. I love this one as I’m not that great a writer even with the Apple Pencil. Trust me, my handwriting is already messy enough.
  • Signature – If you have a created a signature in Preview that you like to use, this tool will let you add it to your screenshot with just a few taps of your finger.
  • Magnifier – This is a pretty cool tool you can use to focus everyone’s eyes on one specific area of your screenshot. This tool will magnify an area you select so it’s larger than everything else. This means you can show everyone pretty quickly what they are looking for and is really handy if you are writing a guide on how to do things on your iPad.
  • Shapes – This tool will allow you to add boxes, arrows and much more to your screenshot. This is a great way to point out various areas of your screenshot in a nice and clean fashion that is easy to read.

During the edit process, if you make a mistake, you can undo the previous step by tapping on the Undo button, so don’t worry about messing up your screenshot when you edit it. You can always undo your happy little accidents as Bob Ross would say.

Once you complete your screenshot, you can always save it to your Photos library if you wish, or you can tap on the Share button to share it with others using social media, email, cloud storage, and more.

Parting Thoughts

Taking a screenshot on an iPad is a pretty simple process, but if you don’t know how to do it, it can be difficult the first time to figure out. Now that you know, you should be able to easily create amazing screenshots on your iPad and iPad Pro and mark them up however you see fit.

Do you have any questions about taking screenshots on your iPad or iPad Pro? If so, comment below and I will do my best to answer your questions.

Tablet Tips

Which App Store is the Best?

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Google Play, iOS App Store, Windows Store or the Chrome OS Web Store?

The world of mobile computing continues to evolve, and with it the apps that you run on your system. There are really four main players today: Android, iOS, Windows and Chrome OS. All of these are great platforms, but which app store is the best? That is a huge question that has been asked more times than I can count, and the answer keeps changing depending on when we talk about it and who is asking the question.

Today, we will look at each app store briefly and give you the rundown of what’s good, and what’s bad. The hope is I can help you answer the question for yourself. If I’m right, by the end of this post you will know which app store is the best, for you.

Google Play Store for Android

Google’s Play Store for Android has more apps than any other app store out there today, After all, the name of the game for Android is choice. You can choose from a huge variety of tablets and smartphones, and you can customize these devices with the apps you find on Google Play. On top of that, you can even find apps from other locations. However, this freedom and control come with a price.

Due to the low barrier for entry into the store and the fact that you can get apps from almost anywhere, quality and security are a big issue. There’s a good chance that you will find apps that are, quite frankly, crap. These useless apps don’t work as advertised or slow down your device in a ridiculous way. On top of that, there are many security concerns with malware when downloading apps from other sources that aren’t that reputable. Still, with added freedom comes more responsibility. But for some users out there, this extra bit of work may not be worth it.

iOS App Store

This is where it all began. Before Apple created the App Store, no one even knew what the word app meant. Today, things are different. Of course, as always, Apple does things a little differently. Apple doesn’t have dozens and dozens of devices that it loads iOS onto. In fact, iOS is limited to iPads, iPhones, and iPods. Apple also exercises far more control over its store and what can and can’t be included on it.

This added control means there are better quality apps out there on the App Store, and there is a good chance they will work on your Apple device of choice. However, it also means you have far fewer choices compared to Android. It also means that you won’t find the customization available to you that you will find on Android, as Apple doesn’t like developers tinkering too much with their devices. In recent years, this has gotten a bit better, but the customization options still lag far behind Android in almost every way. Still, if you don’t care about tweaking and you want to find the best apps available, this is the choice for you

Microsoft Store

It’s no secret that Microsoft was rather late to the tablet party, but beginning with Windows 8, Microsoft has worked hard to catch up with their Surface line of devices. As such, the Windows Store still, to this day, is in an almost constant state of catch up. In recent years Microsoft has worked hard to coax developers into bringing their apps into the world Windows Universal apps. They have had some success, but not nearly as much as I’m sure they hoped.

That being said, there are a great deal of apps available on the Windows Store, and all of these apps will work on any device that runs Windows 10 today. However, there are no where near as many as you will find on both the App Store or Google Play. This is really true when you look at the games. There are many more mobile games available on the other platforms than there are on Windows. Still, approval here is somewhere in between Android and iOS, so while there is some crap out there, you won’t find quite as much. In the end, this is a great option for lovers of Microsoft products and anyone that really only wants to learn how to run one type of operating system.

Chrome OS Web Store

In the past, you wouldn’t even find this store included in these lists. The reason? Chrome OS was more of a niche operating system and not even a viable tablet option. But, it’s 2018 and times have changed. Google has doubled down on the operating system and today we are seeing more and more hybrids and tablets being released powered by this operating system. So, we must talk about the Chrome OS Web Store.

This store contains enhancements and apps designed to run in the Chrome browser. That means that even if they look like a stand alone app, they are really just running in Chrome. There are a lot of good choices out there on the store, but nowhere close to all the others. In some cases, the apps you love just aren’t there, and in other cases they are stripped down versions designed to run in Chrome. The fact is that if you want to use Chrome OS on a tablet, you will probably install a few things from there, but in most cases you will just use the Play Store for your favorite mobile app.

Final Word

So which app store is the best for your tablet? The answer is, it’s up to you. I know that sounds like a cop out. But hear me out. For some, you will love the ability to customize your system and try different types of apps that really change your tablet operating system. You will be okay with going through the bad apps to find the good ones. In fact, that’s part of the fun. Others will prefer the closed system that Apple brings to the tablet, preferring something that just works and not something you have to tinker with in order to use it. Still others won’t care about limitations as long as you don’t have to learn different operating systems. As you can see, which app store is the best is really subjective, and can’t really be solved with a simple article.

Which app store do you prefer to use and why do you think it’s superior to the others? Tell me your thoughts and opinions in the comments below. Just be nice! I wonder if we should take a vote?

Tablet Tips

Five Reasons Android Tablets Failed

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While the iPad continues to dominate tablet sales, Android tablets have struggled in the last couple of years to attract the same type of audience. With so many Android tablets out there, you may not believe me, but hear me out. Today I believe that Android tablets failed. But before I go any further, know this. My first tablets and smartphones were made by Apple, but somewhere along the way I wanted more from my devices, so I switched to the much more open and flexible Android operating system.

They were perfect for me, giving me the stability and customization I wanted from my devices. But, for many, Android tablets have failed to tempt them to switch from an iPad, and I even know many people that use Android for their smartphone but still stick with an iPad as their tablet of choice. So why is that, exactly? Today, I want to look at five reasons why Android tablets failed in the market.

1. The Apps

If there is one reason that, in my mind, stands above the rest, it’s the apps. There are thousands of amazing apps and games available on the Play Store today. However, many of these great apps haven’t been designed or updated to run properly on tablets. While most will run on Android tablets, if they haven’t been built for the larger screens, your experience using the apps will be, shall we say, less than ideal.

These apps often just size themselves up to the larger screen and this impacts quality, while others can even hold their original display ratio on your screen. Contrast this to what you find on the App Store from Apple, and you will see that Android tablet owners never get the app love they really needed to make the Android tablets a viable option. Sure, you will run into the same thing from time to time even on an iPad, but by and large apps today on this platform will work pretty darn well on the iPad, and many have been created specifically for it.

2. OS Fragmentation

This one is a big annoyance of mine, as I run Android on several devices. Because these devices are from different manufacturers, I’m often running different versions of Android at the same time. Even the devices I have from the same maker can suffer from this as they only release the latest versions for one device at a time.

The end result is each of my devices is running a different version of Android, thus providing a very different experience across the different devices. While I get over this issue, many non-tech savvy consumers don’t. They find it frustrating to try and remember the differences and what they can and can’t do on their smartphone or their tablet. Some even get frustrated and go running back to Apple.

3. Market Saturation

When tablet popularity exploded, we saw a huge influx of tablets from many different companies. These companies made premium and cheap tablets and we had an option in just about every screen size you can think of. While this is usually good for the market, in this case I think it actually hurt sales overall.

Because there were so many choices, companies had a difficult time making a profit off their tech investments. In the end, only the companies that invested heavily in the platform were able to remain and we have seen many tablet makers vanish from the market altogether. This hurt support of existing tablets and in the end limited the options we had available to us today.

4. Influx of Cheap Tablets

Because of the open nature of Android, pretty much any tablet maker can grab a copy of Android, modify it for their tablet, and release it as an Android tablet. While in many ways this is a good thing, and I’m a big fan of open source software, there is one negative to this type of license arrangement.

This open nature caused a huge influx of cheaply made tablets, many of them from China, to enter the market. These devices were underpowered, buggy, and many had terrible displays or didn’t last. Most consumers don’t know the difference between the makers, they just know they bought an Android tablet and it died three months later. This earned Android a bit of a bad reputation, even though Android wasn’t at fault, but the companies trying to cash in on its popularity. But we all know how important reputation can be to the bottom line, and this black mark hurt sales in the end.

5. Chrome OS

Now you can’t talk about the failure of Android tablets without looking at Chrome OS. Chrome OS, Google’s web-based browser operating system, languished in niche obscurity for many years after it was released. However, in the last year or two, Google has poured more development into it to improve and transform it into a viable machine for everyone

Today, Chrome OS boasts Android app compatibility, more powerful processors and devices than ever before, and even supports touchscreens and hybrid laptops. This has placed Chrome OS into direct competition in the tablet market, and Android has taken the biggest hit because of it. At the same time, Google seems dedicated to making Chrome OS the next evolution of Android, and has even abandoned their own Android tablet devices in favor of Chrome OS. With the maker of Android abandoning tablets, it’s no shock that others follow suit as well.

Final Thoughts

At the end of the day, the Android tablet failure can be attributed to a variety of their factors, and the popularity of the platform is one of them. While that may sound counter intuitive, the simple fact is there were too many sub par tablets created with Android on it. Consumers, who don’t often know the difference, began to believe that this lackluster experience was inherit in Android, even though that’s far from the case.

While there are premium options out there from companies such as Samsung, for the most part you will find a host of cheap, underpowered tablets that won’t provide you with a truly premium tablet computing experience, and who wants that? Combine that with Google’s new focus on Chrome OS and the merging of the Android platform with it, and you have the perfect recipe for the Android tablet’s demise.

Yes I do believe the future of Android tablets currently rests with Chrome OS. In fact, I’m writing this very article on a Chromebook touchscreen using the Android Word app. If you need anymore evidence, ask anyone like me and I’m sure you will hear the same.

Still, that doesn’t mean the end of Android tablets, just a morphing into something more, and hopefully something better. With future versions of Chrome OS, I hope we will see even better support for Android apps and a true blending of the operating systems into something that can be the future for all tablet owners, except maybe for a few of the iPad holdouts.

What do you think about Android tablets? Do you believe they failed or do you think they are every bit as great as Chrome OS and iOS today? Tell me your thoughts and opinions in the comments below.

Tablet Tips

How to Select Your Tablet Display Size

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How to Select Your Tablet Display Size

Perhaps one of the questions I’m asked most often about tablets concerns the tablet display size. Today there are many different tablet display size options and determining which one you buy will greatly impact your overall user experience. Of course, when you are shopping for a new tablet, you may not know which display size you should choose.

Today, I will attempt to answer this question once and for all. To help you make your decision, I will first highlight the benefits and drawbacks of each tablet size and then we will take an overall look at how you should decide which tablet display size is right for you.

Pros and Cons of Each Size

First, let’s look at the pros and cons of all the different tablet display size options that are available today.

7-Inch Tablets

First on our list are the smallest tablets – the 7-inch tablets. These tablets are pretty small, coming in only slightly larger than the largest smartphones today. These tablets are starting to fade in popularity thanks to larger smartphones, but still hold onto some of their market share even today. These tablets are small and light, making them the perfect portable device. If you love reading books on your devices, then this is a great option. However, because of their small size, text can be tiny, meaning they won’t be as good of an option for web browsing or document editing. Still, their portability more than makes up for this shortcoming, and their lightweight design means media consumption on the couch will be more comfortable than ever.

8-Inch Tablets

The 8-inch tablet is in a funny position. It’s not quite big enough to be a true desktop replacement, but with only one extra inch of space, it’s still much better at these tasks compared to a 7-inch tablet. Personally, I recommend this size tablet to anyone that is looking for a device that is very portable, which an 8-inch tablet still is, along with a device that is much better than the small, 7-inch tablets for reading emails, document editing and the like. If I were you, I would grab one of these if you think the 7-inch is too small or if you have a hard time reading the display on the smaller tablets. In the end, the 8-inch tablet is still very portable, but gives you a better experience if you need to use your tablet for things other than media consumption and e-reading.

9-Inch and 10-Inch Tablets

When Apple first released the iPad, the 9.7-inch design became a standard of sorts. This size is a great balance between large and small, but any tablets in this size range are much heavier than the other options out there. Still, they offer perfect sizes for both media consumption and document editing. But some may find these tablets are too heavy and bulky to make effective e-readers over long stretches of time, simply because of their weight. However, if you are looking for the perfect balance in size and function, these still are hard to beat.

Large Screen Tablets

With the introduction of the iPad Pro, large screen tablets that are 12 inches or larger have become more mainstream. These displays are quite large, making these tablets the most obvious choices for desktop and even laptop replacements. You will need a few accessories to truly replace your laptop, but it can be done with relative comfort to you. However, these devices are heavy, and while their large screens are great for media consumption such as Netflix, their weight make them difficult to hold.

Making Your Decision

So how do you make your decision? Let’s see if I can help you with that. If you are looking for a device for work that’s portable but doesn’t have to go with you everywhere, you probably want to choose something with a larger screen. Remember, the smaller the screen, the more portable the device, but the harder it will be to use it for things like email and document editing. So, for serious work, I would suggest a larger display.

However, if you are in the market for something very portable for easy reading and media consumption, a 7-inch tablet or even an 8-inch tablet is the way to go, with the 8-inch tablet winning out on things like web browsing because of the slightly larger displays.

On the other hand, if you are in the market for something for media consumption and light work that remains portable, then an 8-inch tablet would be the smallest I would recommend, with the 9-inch and 10-inch tablets often being better suited for this type of usage, although you will lose out on a bit of portability.

Your Usage Is Key

At the end of the day, it all comes down to how and where you use your tablet. If all you need is a device for media consumption, and you need to consume this media almost anywhere, a smaller tablet will be a better option for you. However, if you need something for both work and play, a larger display tablet will give you a much better user experience.

Your Budget

No matter what, you also need to consider your budget. How much you have to spend on a new tablet will greatly impact which tablet you buy. The 7-inch tablets are much cheaper compared to the other options out there, with the large screen tablets such as the big iPad Pro being the most expensive options out there. No matter how you use it, if your budget won’t allow for the extra expense, you may have to go smaller. If you are on a tight budget, a smaller tablet such as a 7-inch or 8-inch may be the one you need, but if you have a little more to spend, then the 9-inch and 10-inch designs could be right for you. If budget is not an issue for you, then you are free to look at any option out there, including the large, 12-inch displays.

Parting Thoughts

With so many tablet choices out there, you may have a tough time deciding which tablet display size is right for you. Hopefully, I have helped you answer that question today. Remember, it all comes down to your budget and how you plan on using your new tablet. Please, when you are shopping for a new tablet, take all of the options into consideration. If you don’t, you could end up with a tablet that doesn’t work for you. And if it doesn’t meet your needs, you won’t enjoy using it, and that’s something all of us would like to avoid.

Do you have a question about tablet display size that I didn’t answer here? If so, please comment below and I will try to answer all your questions. Remember, we have a variety of buying guides for all the different sizes ready to help you make the right tablet choice.

Tablet Tips

Common Android Terminology You Need to Know

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Common Android Terminology You Need to Know

I realized today that when I write many of these posts, I tend to throw around Android terminology like it’s commonplace. But, if you are new to Android, or new to tablets in general, you may not know what I’m talking about. So today I thought it would be fun and handy to look at some of the most common Android terminology that you will need to know and understand if you want to use an Android tablet.

Tablet Buttons

Android Terminology

First, I want to cover the most common buttons you will find on an Android tablet. While this will vary from tablet to tablet, most tablets use a pretty standard design with all the buttons I will mention here.

Power – This button turns your Android tablet on and off. You can use this button to reboot your tablet and even enter some troubleshooting modes if you are having issues with your tablet.

Volume – This one is pretty obvious. The volume buttons will turn the sound of your Android tablet up and down. Combinations with this key will allow you to troubleshoot your tablet and even perform functions such as taking screenshots.

Lock – The lock button will close your tablet and turn the lock screen on. This means you will have to sign back into your tablet the next time you use it. In some cases, this button is not only a lock button but could also be the power button.

Home – The home button is the button you see at the bottom center of your tablet. This button will return you to your Home screen whenever pressed. On some tablets, this button may be a physical button but in other cases it could be a button at the bottom of your display.

Back – The back button does just what it says it does. It will move you back one step in whatever app you are using. If you are at the start screen of an app, the back button will also close the app and return you to the home screen.

Multitasking – The multitasking button will shrink the apps you have open into a scrollable set of windows. From here, you can switch between apps without pressing their icon or you can close down apps you no longer need.

Android Terminology

Android Terminology

Now that we have the basic hardware defined, let’s look at the most common terminology you will need to navigate the Android operating system. By learning these terms, you should be able to easily follow any guide you find on this site and pretty much anywhere online.

Lock Screen – The lock screen is the first screen you will see when you turn on your Android tablet. From here, you will need to sign into your Android tablet by swiping right. In some cases, you may need to enter a passcode or draw a pattern to authenticate to your tablet.

Home Screen – The Home screen is the main screen you will see when using your Android tablet. From here you can access shortcuts to all the apps on your tablet. You can setup multiple Home Screens that you can swipe between to access all your apps.

App – An app is any program that you have downloaded from the Google Play Store. These can be productivity apps such as Microsoft Word or even some of the most popular mobile games that are available today.

App Drawer – The app drawer is a grid of all the apps you have installed on your Android tablet. These apps may or may not have shortcuts on the Home screen. To access it, you may have an icon on your Home screen. In newer versions of Android, swiping down in an empty area of your Home screen will open it.

Dock – The dock is a row of apps at the bottom of your screen. Apps placed in the dock will always appear on your display no matter which Home screen you are on. The dock should be used for the apps you use most often, such as Email, a web browser, etc.

Settings – The settings app can be found in the App Drawer and is used to customize many different settings in Android. From this app you can change wallpaper, security settings, Wi-Fi settings, and much more.

Widgets – Widgets are small graphical apps that you can placed on your Home screen. These can give you information without opening an app. Some of the most common widgets you will see are clocks, weather, and network monitors.

Ok, Google – This is Google’s answer to Siri. This personal assistant can be accessed by saying “Ok, Google”, at which point you can ask it many different questions, send emails, schedule calendar notifications, and more.

Shade – The shade is the notification banner that can be found by swiping down from the top of your display. All of your notifications will be placed here for easy access while you are using your tablet.

Long press – A long press is a simple tap and hold on the screen. This type of press will do different things depending on the app you are using. In Android, it will often open a contextual menu with many different options you can perform on your tablet.

Notifications – Just like on a smartphone, your apps can send you notifications to warn you of important information. This could be when an email comes in or even an update from your favorite game.

Google Account – You will be prompted for a Google account when you setup your Android tablet. This is simply a Gmail account or any other account you have with Google that can be used much like an Apple ID is used on an iPad or iPhone.

Android Pay – This is similar to Apple Pay and is the latest version that began with Google Wallet. This is a contactless payment system that allows you to buy from stores without getting out your wallet.

APK – This is the file extension for all Android apps. If you install apps from other places other than the Play Store, you will be downloading APK files.

Bloatware – This is a term used for apps that come pre-installed on your Android tablet that are of little use to you. In some cases, you can remove them. However, sometimes you are stuck with them.

Launcher – The launcher is a collection of interface systems that include the Home Screen and any type of design styles such as icons. You use the launcher to interact with Android and launch your favorite apps.


This is by no means a be all, end all list of terms you will need to know when using Android. The more you use it, the more you will need to learn. This list is, however, a great list of terms for anyone new to Android or tablets. By learning these different terms, you should be able to make adequate use of the many guides available online that help you navigate and use Android.

Is there a term I’ve left off this list that you think should be included? If so, comment below and tell me which term you would like to see added to this list. I will do my best to add it as soon as possible.

Tablet Tips

How to Troubleshoot Wi-Fi Problems on Your iPad

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How to Troubleshoot Wi-Fi Problems on Your iPad

There is nothing more frustrating than an iPad that won’t connect to Wi-Fi. After all, it’s not like you can plug in an ethernet cable and get back to work. While Wi-Fi problems on your iPad are rare, they do happen. If you are having trouble with your Wi-Fi, follow the tips below on how to troubleshoot and fix the problem.

1. Check Your Range

If you are having issues on your iPad, you first need to make sure you haven’t gone too far away from your Wi-Fi router. I know it can be tempting to carry it with you everywhere, but the range of your Wi-Fi router is limited. If you notice your signal strength is weak, try moving closer to your router. You may have just reached the limit of its range.

2. Restart Your iPad

The first thing you should do is also the easiest. If you have no network connectivity but you are confident that your network is available and you are in range, then you may want to try restarting your iPad. While a simple restart may do the trick, you probably should completely shutdown your iPad, wait a minute or two, and then turn it on again. Give it time to come back up and then try to reconnect to your Wi-Fi network. Remember, iPads are just handheld computers, and sometimes they need a restart to clean things up. For good measure, you may want to consider restarting it once or twice a month depending on your usage.

3. Try Another Network

If a simple restart doesn’t do the trick, then you may want to try another network. This will tell if it is a problem with your network, or at least a problem with your iPad connecting to that network. This may require you to go somewhere that offers free Wi-Fi, or pay a visit to a friend. If there is another network in your area, you could give that a try. But passwords may be a problem. If your iPad sees the other networks and asks you for a password, there’s a good chance that your Wi-Fi is working on your iPad and it’s something going on with your network.

4. Reboot Your Router

Sometimes, the problem may not be your iPad at all, but instead it could be your Wi-Fi router. In my experience, you could encounter a problem with your iPad or smartphone while everything still works just find on your laptop or vice versa. These weird types of problems can make you think there is a problem with the Wi-Fi card on your device, but in reality the problem is actually your Wi-Fi router. Wi-Fi routers are just small computers, and every now and then they could use a good reboot. These reboots can clear out the memory and allow them to function normally. If you are having Wi-Fi trouble, turn off your router by flipping the power switch or unplugging it. Count to 20 and then turn it back on. Give it a minute or two to come back up and then give your iPad a try. You may want to delete the network and re-add it on your iPad afterwards just for good measure.

5. Delete and Re-Add Network

Sometimes, there is only something wrong with the settings for the particular network you are trying to connect to and use. Go to Settings – Wi-Fi and then select the network you are trying to connect to. From there, you can select to forget the network. Once forgotten, you then have to return to the main Wi-Fi menu and reconnect to the network just like it was a new network. That means you will need to know the name of the network and the Wi-Fi password before you can reconnect to the network.

6. Reset Your Network Settings

In some cases, the simple fixes just won’t quite do the trick. Thankfully, Apple has made even the more complicated fixes pretty simple and easy to do. If you are still having problems with the Wi-Fi on your iPad, you may need to reset your network settings. This will keep all your settings safe, including your files and apps, but it will wipe out all your network settings. This will clear out any saved networks from your device, so you will need passwords to reconnect them after you do it. Go to Settings – General – Reset and select Reset Network Settings. Wait for it to complete the reset and then try to reconnect to your Wi-Fi.

7. Reset All Settings

If the Network settings doesn’t do the trick, you could try getting rid of all settings. This will remove quite a bit from your iPad but keep all your data safe. Tap on Settings – General – Reset. Then choose Reset All Settings. This will wipe out all your settings, including the network settings. This should remove every type of setting on your device without removing your personal files and apps. If there was anything interfering with your Wi-Fi, this should take care of it. But if it doesn’t, you may have to reset more than your settings.

8. Erase All Content and Settings

If all else fails, you may need to completely reset your iPad. Before you begin this process, make sure all your data, including your contacts, files and more are backed up. Make a note of the apps you will need, as well. You can back all of this up using iCloud if you have enough space, but knowing what you need and what you don’t need will be helpful. Once you have backed everything up, tap on Settings – General – Reset and choose Erase All Content and Settings. This will essentially wipe your iPad and take it back to the way it was on the day you bought it. Once it comes back up, follow the prompts to reconnect it and sign in and then try to connect to your Wi-Fi network.

9. Contact Apple

If all else fails, you may need to repair the Wi-Fi card in your iPad. Before you contact Apple, make sure you have tried everything in this list. But, if you have, and you have tried multiple networks but are still having problems, you could be faced with a hardware problem on your device. When this happens, all you can do is call your local Apple support agent and make an appointment to have it examined and fixed.

Parting Thoughts

Wi-Fi problems on your iPad can be frustrating, but in most cases they can be easy to fix. By following this guide, you should be able to properly troubleshoot the problem yourself and, in most cases, fix the problem without calling in outside help. But if none of these options work, remember that Apple is available to help you fix the problem. That could mean a new Wi-Fi card or even a new iPad, but at least you will know what you need to do.

Have you ever had Wi-Fi problems on your iPad? If so, what did you do to fix it? Tell me about your experience in the comments below.

Tablet Tips

The Benefits and Drawbacks of Using a Tablet Keyboard

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The Benefits and Drawbacks of Using a Tablet Keyboard

I remember a time when they said tablets would revolutionize how we work and play. They even said one day they would replace laptops. In the end, I believe they were both right and wrong. Of course tablets and smartphones have changed how we work and play, but they have been unable to completely replace the laptop. Would you like to know why? It’s all in the keyboard. The lack of keyboard on these devices makes them more difficult to use for true work.

To combat this, there have been many keyboards released for tablets over the years. Some of them good, some of them not so good. But, there are benefits to using a keyboard on your tablet, and, as you may have guessed, a few drawbacks as well. Today, let’s examine both the good and the bad of using a tablet keyboard so you can decide if owning one is right for you and your tablet.


If you follow any of my articles, you know I always start with the good. After all, you may as well begin positive. Am I right? Below I have a few benefits of buying a tablet keyboard. I believe, when you realize these benefits, you will also think that a tablet keyboard is worth it.

Improved Productivity

The first, and probably most obvious reason to get a keyboard is to be able to type better. While the touchscreen keyboards are good, I don’t know anyone that can type as fast on them as they can a traditional keyboard. The fact is that a traditional keyboard is the best way to enter text and has ruled supreme since the invention of the first typewriter. If you want to get real work done on your tablet, and you won’t to get it done fast, get a keyboard. It will make creating document, responding to emails, and much more so much easier than if you stick with the touchscreen.

Better Tablet Control

Admittedly, I have found this to be more true on keyboards with Android or Windows 10 than on an iPad, but even Apple’s keyboards have a few bells and whistles that make controlling your tablet much easier. These controls will vary depending on the keyboard you choose, but most keyboards include special keys for home and back that will help you navigate your tablet OS with just the push of a button. One could argue that the touch interface is already easy, and that’s true. But if you are typing away and you need to do something quickly, having access to a few bonus keys for frequent commands can save you time from stopping and swiping away on your screen.

Enhanced Comfort

I know using a tablet is already one of the most comfortable experiences you can find today. Really they are touch to beat. You can use them at a desk, on the couch or even in bed and be pretty darn comfortable. Still, if you want to use your tablet for work over longer periods of time, you will find that having access to a keyboard will make your tablet even more comfortable. The fact that your wrist and hand won’t be constantly elevated and in motion will help you use your tablet over longer stretches without tiring. And in a productivity environment, anything that will give you added comfort is always a huge plus.


And now that we have covered the good, it’s time to look at the bad. Well, bad may not be the best term for it. In the end, it’s really just a few minor drawbacks. But it could be enough for you to decide that a tablet keyboard isn’t right for you.

Less Portability

No matter how small they make these keyboards, they are still about the same size, shape, thickness, and weight of your tablet. That means that you are essentially doubling the size of your tablet. While that still isn’t too much, it really can impact how portable your device really is. I know, at the end of the day it is still very portable, much more so than a laptop. But, you have to keep in mind this added weight when you are taking a trip or even just using it during the day. In some cases, you may find that your tablet is too heavy to be as comfortable to use as it was before you bought the keyboard.

Smaller Size

I don’t know about you, but I like a full-sized keyboard. There is something about it that just feels right. Unfortunately, tablet keyboards are rarely full size. In most cases, the keyboards have been sized to fit the tablet you are using. That means that if you have a 9.7-inch tablet, your keyboard will have about the same width and height of that tablet. But, you still have the same amount of keys. So, manufacturers have shrunk the keys down to fit in the space allowed. This can make typing on these keyboards somewhat awkward and downright difficult at times. If you have large hands, they may not be very useful at all. So be careful when buying a tablet keyboard and make sure that the keys aren’t too small for you to use.

Added Cost

This is one of the big ones. There aren’t many regular tablets out there that come with a keyboard. In most cases, you have to buy these as an addon for your tablet or hit up a third-party manufacturer such as Logitech to get the keyboard you want. On top of that, you often get what you pay for. Some of the best keyboards will cost you anywhere from $100-$200 or more. When you add that to the high price you already paid for your tablet, and you start reaching price territory that rivals a regular laptop. This can cause many people to think twice before buying. After all, if you are paying the same price, shouldn’t you get the same functionality? But, there is something to be said about the cleanliness of a tablet operating system, so it may be worth it. If you want a tablet keyboard, however, be prepared to pay for it, and be sure you get a good one. If you skimp to save a few bucks, I promise you that you won’t be happy with your purchase.

Parting Thoughts

Remember, it all comes down to how you use it. Tablet keyboards may be smaller and add extra costs to your tablet purchase, but they can go a long way into transforming your tablet experience. In some cases, you may not ever need a laptop again, depending on your usage. But, like everything, you have to take the good with the bad. There are great reasons to buy a tablet keyboard, and a few reasons that may give you pause. Look at how you use your tablet and decide for yourself. If you believe that a tablet keyboard could improve your overall experience, then by all means grab one. I’m betting you won’t regret it.

Do you use a tablet keyboard? If so, what do you think about them? Have they helped you transform your device into a true productivity machine? Tell me about your experience in the comments below.

Tablet Tips

How the Asus Chromebook Flip Became My New Tablet

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If you have followed any of my posts over the last few years, you know I’m a big fan of tablets. In fact, I happen to own an iPad and a Samsung Galaxy Tab S2, although the iPad is starting to get some age on it. For awhile, the Samsung became my go to device for almost everything. However, one unfortunate day, my tablet took a little tumble and the screen cracked. While it wasn’t a bad crack and the tablet was still usable, I hated looking at it every day. So I began searching for a new replacement. While you may think that I would have chosen the Samsung Galaxy Tab S3, I came across the Asus Chromebook Flip, and became hooked. But could it be a viable tablet replacement? Today, I wanted to describe my experience so you can see if Chromebooks are up to the task of becoming the next tablets from Google.

What Works

First, let’s talk about what works well on the Asus Chromebook Flip, before we get to what doesn’t work. Remember, The Asus Chromebook Flip is powered by Chrome OS, Google’s browser-based operating system, but recent improvements have brought the Play Store and the world of Android apps to the platform. It was that news that made me finally consider a Chromebook with a touchscreen as a potential tablet replacement.

The Basics

Chrome OS is clean, organized and easy to use, which is always important in a tablet operating system. Because it is really a laptop with tablet capabilities, it comes with a trackpad and keyboard so I don’t have to worry about buying a bunch of accessories. They keyboard feels great and I rather enjoy using it. In fact, I’m typing this article on it right now. The trackpad, however, is really nothing special, but it does work well.


Thanks to the inclusion of the Play Store, I can install apps from both the Chrome Web Store and the Play Store. So far, almost every app I have installed works quite well, although you can still tell the addition of Android to Chrome OS is somewhat patched on top of the operating system. Currently, every Android game I have tried works well and even productivity apps, such as Office, works great on the device.

Tablet Mode

There is a reason I chose the Chromebook Flip from Asus. Remember, not all Chromebooks are created equally. In order for it to be a viable tablet replacement, you need to be able to put it into a tablet mode and have a working touchscreen for the full effect. After all, not all Android apps work very well with a mouse. Thankfully, the Asus Chromebook Flip excels in this area. It easily flips around and becomes a tablet. The touchscreen feels good and is very responsive, and I had no problem using any Android, or Chrome OS app in tablet mode.

What Doesn’t Work

Now that you know the good, it’s time to examine the bad. After all, no device is perfect. But, before I go further, just let me say that most of what doesn’t work is superficial, and the problems don’t impact my overall experience in too many ways, but they are still worth mentioning.

The Size

This is a tough one. The Asus Chromebook Flip comes with a 12.3-inch display, meaning it is larger than most tablets out there with the exception of the iPad Pro and a few others. While it remains very light, the larger screen means it is a little more unwieldy compared to the small tablets, but you do get a much larger display in the process, which is great when using it as a laptop and even if you are watching a movie, but be prepared to rest it somewhere over longer periods of use.

A Few App Issues

While I would rate my experience with Android on Chrome OS as positive and find that most apps work pretty well, there are a few issues here and there. First, I have found a few apps that just don’t work, and some you will find you won’t even be able to install. This problem is not Google’s fault, but up to the app makers to update their apps to work on Intel processors. Many developers have already embraced this change so you won’t run into it too often, but it does happen. Second, some Android apps will install fine but just don’t seem to work when you run them. I ran into this with the Outlook app from Microsoft. It installs and runs fine but won’t allow me to setup an email account. I found this one particularly annoying as that is my favorite email app on the Android platform.

Another issue I have run into are occasional crashes of Android apps and I few other quirks. For example, when I’m playing Netflix, all my controls seem to stop functioning, except for play and pause. Once I play and pause the app, then I get back my controls. It’s a really weird error that I’m sure has more to do with the app itself and not the platform it’s running on, but it is worth mentioning. I expect little issues like this to clear up as time moves on and support for Android improves on Chrome OS.

The Bottom Line

So here we go. Is the Asus Chromebook Flip a viable tablet replacement? Most definitely YES! With its beautiful, responsive touchscreen, great keyboard, and flip design that converts from a laptop to a tablet and back, it’s a great convertible device that works well as both a tablet and a laptop. If you are looking to slim down your collection of devices or just replace your tablet with something that has a few more features, then I would seriously consider the Asus Chromebook Flip.

My Samsung tablet has been sitting dead for almost two weeks now, as I see no need to charge it and continue using it. So, if you are anything like me, you will love using this device. In fact, I love it much more than my old tablet, even if there are a few quirks or things that you must get used to.

What do you think? Do you agree with my assessment of the Asus Chromebook Flip? Would you consider using a Chromebook with a touchscreen as your next tablet? Tell me your thoughts and opinions in the comments below.